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Moong Dal with Browned Onion

This delicious moong dal with brown onion makes for a tasty vegetarian recipe. This dish by Madhur Jaffrey brings together mung beans, asafoetida and chillies.

From the book


Here, the rich taste of crisply browned onions flavours the beans. This tarka should, ideally, be done just before serving. Put the heated beans into a serving dish, prepare the tarka and pour it over the top so it floats on the surface. The crisp onion, browned red chillies and cumin seeds act as a garnish as well as a flavouring.

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175g (6oz) hulled and split mung beans (moong dal)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1–1¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil, preferably corn or groundnut
½ tsp cumin seeds
A generous pinch of ground asafoetida
3 dried red chillies (a medium-sized, cayenne type is ideal)
50g (2oz) onion, peeled and cut into the finest half-rings


Pick over the mung beans, wash in several changes of water and drain. Put the split beans in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 1 litre (1¾ pints) water and bring to the boil. Watch carefully so that the contents of the pan do not boil over. Remove the froth that rises to the top. Add the turmeric and stir once. Partly cover, turn the heat to low and cook very gently for 40–50 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Add the salt and stir to mix. Put the hot or reheated mung beans into a serving dish and leave in a warm spot.

Put the oil into a small frying pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the asafoetida and, a second later, the red chillies. Stir for 5 seconds or until the chillies darken. Now add the onion. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes or until the onions turn brown and crisp. Pour the contents of the pan evenly over the surface of the beans. Serve immediately. (The whole red chillies add flavour and are decorative, but should be nibbled at only by those who know what they’re in for.)




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From the book: My Kitchen Table: 100 Essential Curries

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